Improving economic water productivity to enhance resilience in canal irrigation systems: a pilot study of the Sina Irrigation System in Maharashtra, India

This paper proposes scenarios to achieve more crop per drop and irrigation for all in water-scarce irrigation systems, with a particular reference to India. It uses economic water productivity (EWP) and water cost curve for EWP as tools to reallocate irrigation consumptive water use (CWU) and identify economically viable cropping patterns. Assessed in the water-scarce Sina irrigation system in Maharashtra, India, the method shows that drought-tolerant annual crops such as fruits and/or fodder should be the preferred option in irrigated cropping patterns. Cropping patterns with orchard or fodder as permanent fixtures will provide sustainable income in low rainfall years. Orchards in combination with other crops will increase EWP and value of output in moderate to good rainfall years. Governments should create an enabling environment for conjunctive water use and allocation of CWU to achieve a gradual shift to high-value annual/perennial crops as permanent fixtures in cropping patterns.